Chevrolet pickup vs. Ford for heavy use?

I live in rural Mexico, in the mountains. People have older pickups. A cousin has a 1976 Chevrolet. It looks at first glance as if it were dropped out of a low flying C-130. It is all beat to crud. The first time I saw that thing, I thought, Omigosh, what a piece of junk.

Fifteen years later, I wish I had one like it.

They put heavy duty springs on them, use tires with a heavier load rating, and routinely drag off a ton or more. Slowly. And, they go in the most unbelievable places with them.

When, not if, they break, they can fix anything. He has had the motor rebuilt every so many years. One strange problem is the turn signal mechanism in the steering wheel. There is a mechanic an hour away who can get the parts, but they only last about a year. They can get the rear tail light assemblies.

That thing as bad as it looks just keeps on going. Unbelievable.

However, that is not my question. I want eventually to buy a Ford F-150 dual cabin, which you can get here. The hard thing to get is an automatic transmission, because of my big feet. Clutching, especially on hills, is not easy with my feet.

He says automatics don’t last long. My observation is this is because they don’t change the fluid.

He also says Chevrolet pickups are much tougher, and stronger with heavy loads.

I dunno’. Does that make sense? I realize there are different models of both makes, but why would Chevrolet be tougher than Ford? Any ideas?

By the way, I plan to buy one no more than 10 years old, so I can drive to the border 850 miles.

I’d personally buy a Chevy over a Ford, but I’m a little prejudiced against Fords. But without a Ford that’s had similar abuse to compare it to, I don’t see how you can say one is tougher than the other. A 1976 anything is going to be a very simple vehicle, with no computers, only a few emission controls (that no doubt were stripped off a long time ago), and simple mechanicals and wiring. With no salt to rust and weaken the frame and body, I imagine anything will soldier on a long time. And an old-school cast iron V8 from GM, Ford, or Chrysler can soak up a lot of abuse. Both the manual and automatic transmissions put in trucks from that era were pretty tough too.

In this area, hands down, the most used truck for plowing and sanding, which is as difficult on a truck as you can get, is done by GMCs and Chevy trucks. Part of this is due to parts and service as anything. Easily, one BIG key to engine longevity is the transmission. It can make up for a lot of motor deficiencies. The Allison transmission, Duramax combination since 2001 is an unbeatable combination in GMC products. They are expensive but a better work horse is hard to find.

I am very sceptical in the newer Eco boost line Ford uses. From my experience, Hard word and economy don’t work well together. I would avoid Ford and Chrysler trucks. The suspension on camparable Chrysler trucks is weaker and the Fords have been more rust prone. Older trucks are not better then newer ones. They are just easier to work on in areas with limited resouses. More depends upon the service to keep it running sometimes then the truck you buy. So, a newer Chrysler may be better then an old GMC. Your resources, both financially and in service after will determine your best buy.

Oh, here we go. The great Ford vs. Chevy truck debate.

I admit I’m torn between the two.

My uncle owned a Ford pickup he abused and maintained for more than three decades before he finally gave up on it due to body rust. It was still running smooth as silk when he let it go. At the same time, my family has owned some darned unreliable Fords over the years, including a full-sized van. Looking at the newest F-150, I’d be tempted to buy one if I was in the market for a full-sized truck. It’s a nice looking vehicle with a lot of good technology, and it gets pretty good fuel economy for a full-sized truck.

Having said that, I’d also be tempted by a GMC pickup, and I have two reasons. One is that my family has had a good history with GM vehicles. The ones my parents and I have owned lasted a long time and took a lot of abuse. The second reason, and I admit this might seem silly, is that Henry Ford was an infamous anti-Semite, and I’d rather not drive around in a vehicle sporting his name.

In the end, I guess I’d have to test drive both vehicles to make a decision to see which one fits my body best and which one has the best ride.

As for the transmission issue, I wonder if the mountains are a factor. It’s easier to control your speed going down a mountain with a manual transmission. A manual transmission is designed to be downshifted. Although you can manually downshift an automatic transmission, it might not stand up to the stress as well.

I know you didn’t ask about Chrysler, but based on my experiences and the experiences of others, I will never own another Chrysler product unless it’s a Wrangler or an antique Dart.

I can’t say much for a modern Ford or GM. My 72 F-150 was almost indestructible. I got it from my dad when it had over 250k miles on it. I drove it only during real bad weather when I needed to get to school. It never died…never didn’t start…always got me where I was going…but it was during that first gas crisis…and gas suddenly tripled overnight. So most of the time I drove my 73 Vega.

I’m biased, but when I was 16 I had a 1974 F-100. The truck was 20 years old when I got it and the odometer had rolled over at least once. The 2bbl 302 was pretty worn out when I got it, as was the clutch, so dad and I found a 4 bbl 390 in a junkyard, did a warm rebuild on it ( had the heads rebuilt, cleaned up, and decked, a slightly hotter cam, mid-rise manifold, and new 650 cfm carb.). It ran very well, the only minor issue was that in the summer it ran warm because we didn’t bother getting a bigger radiator for the bigger engine. The truck was bascially unbreakable, I did all the hooning in that truck you’d expect a car-obsessed 16 year old to do. Burnouts, driving 60 MPH down dirt fire trails, even the odd jump over railroad crossings, I would even fill the bed up with water, and go wet down a dirt go-kart track we had nearby so we could race our go-karts and not get choked out on the dust. The truck took everything I could throw at it, nothing ever broke. I also never once put a dent on it either or hit anything. When I was 18 I got a 1992 T-Bird SC, and the F-100 was retired to non-daily driver status. My dad actually kept it up until about 3 years ago, until he finally broke down bought a newer truck ( the F-100 lacked such things as power steering, power brakes, AC, and 3 point seat belts). He sold to local guy, and I still sometimes see the old F-100 driving around today. I would estimate that it probably has around 350k miles on the body/frame/transmission now.

If I was buying an older truck I would get a Ford F-150. They have a better overall reputation for reliability and long life. The company I worked for used them on construction in all kinds of weather and the suspension stood up much better than GM trucks.

If the local shops favor older Chevrolet/GMC trucks it might be worthwhile to find an early 80s pre fuel injection GM truck. Check out some news reels from Cuba. They still keep 1950s Chevrolets running.

I think the old advice to purchase the best 10 yr old pick up that suits your needs still apply. That may be a Chevy or Ford, but the key is how well it was maintained in the past, and how beat up it may have become.

My family has owned Ford pick ups since 1951, so there is probably some bias on my part. Family friends have owned Chevrolet/GMCs for nearly the same time, with equally good results The 1968 Chevy pick up I owned worked out well, also. I was unhappiest with my 79 Dodge pick up, otherwise have been extremely happy with the Fords or Chevys I have owned.

I currently own a 95 and 02 F350. They have been very good trucks and take a beating. The 02 Ford rides better on the highway, but that is the only difference. They are equally tough and have required few repairs.

Both personally and as a mechanic I think that a 10 year old Chevy would be a better choice as far as serviceability goes. Things like spark plugs and routine maintenance tend to be more accessible on the Chevy than the Ford, although I admit a personal bias toward GM pickups. Chevrolet is still using a single cam and pushrods where the Fords have OHC and 2 or more timing chains. Not that they are particularly problematic, but they are harder to work on when something does go wrong. But talk to the neighbors and mechanics around you, I think it would be best to buy whatever they are the most comfortable working on.

If you’re talking a 1500 or F150 truck, I don’t think one is particularly more robust than another. Once you get into the heavy duty range, the Allison 6 speed auto trans will outlive twice a Ford transmission. But I think you’re talking the half-ton gas engine, right?

I spent some time visiting a friend who lived in Aguascalientes for several years. Amazing what they do to repair/maintain cars there compared to how we do it at home. I had sold him my 1970 Coupe DeVille, he drove it from Seattle and had the interior reupholstered and all the body and paint done for what amounted to a few hundred dollars.

I also found it odd to walk into Walmart and see VW taillight assemblies, carburetor kits, clutch cables, and the like hanging on the shelf next to oil and wiper blades. However he had a hard time finding certain parts for the old Cadillac. When I flew down of course I was stopped at customs and had to explain what I was doing with a suitcase full of ball joints, gaskets, and the like.

I think @asemaster has the right idea. It’s sometimes more important how a truck is optioned out then what brand it is often. You can 't make a case of a Chevy 6 cylinder over a Ford diesel with HD suspension. Even though I have little desire to own Dodges, I would give preference to their standard v8 over a Ford ecoboost 6 with a plethora of additional moving parts and unproven technology.

Okay, thanks. I forgot I had posted until I drove my 2002 Sienna to the local weekly market and saw all the pickups parked beside me.

Frankly, the F-150 seems to be most popular here, in all types. So, I think I can assume parts and service, at least of sorts, are available here.

Lobo is a big motor version. A year or two several young lads converted their Lobo and themselves into a grease spot on a straight flat highway south of here. The speedometer was frozen at 160 km/hour, around 100 mph.

The highway was straight and flat, but the fields beside the highway had gigantic rocks, like 10 tons or more. This area economy is based on quarry work with travertine marble, and sometimes they mine a large rock and the buyer rejects it, and it has been known they just dump it somewhere along the highway.

There are also dual cabins and 1.5 cabins. Every possible age. If I get one, I prefer the full two cabins, because it is common here to carry a lot of passengers when neighbors have no car. Actually a mini-van is a very good choice, but will not go the places in rough terrain that a pick-up will go. And, at times one needs to carry large, heavy things.

Of course, maybe the answer is two vehicles…

It is very common here to build cages on the back, to carry people with, since most folks don’t have cars. I have spent many hours in the back of a pickup with cage. The only problem is, if they lose control, everybody back there dies…

Looks like both choices are good enough that whatever floats my boat, as my daughter says. I do appreciate the input. The cousin insists Chevrolet pickups can move so much more, etc. That made no sense. Rear end choice and spring capacity might.

That deal about the Ford transmission is worth looking into.

I don’t really mind an occasional transmission rebuild, but would try to avoid it with regular fluid changes. Every five years would not bother me, though I don’t think with low usage that would be the case.

Someone actually flagged my reply as spam?!?

Yeah, I don’t understand that either.

Some of us have been targeted so you can see that we like, agree, disagree, or flag a post, while others seem to be able to do these things anonymously. I’d sure like to know why that is.

1970’s Ford F150’s with the twin I-beam suspension were crap at the front and great everywhere else. The GM’s had better automatic transmissions in the THM 350 and especially the THM 400’s used in 3/4 ton’s with the bigger engines. Either truck would take lots of abuse. In Central and South America a half ton truck can carry 1 1/2 tons. Just observe the locals! Since you live in NM, buy a GMC or Chevy with the early fuel injection. It is simple and reliable and won’t be stolen and whisked across the border like the carb’ed ones. 20 year old GM’s have better automatics and the engines are simpler than the Mod-motored (overhead cam) Fords.

Mexico, not New Mexico.